Opinions Expressed in "Rants," while informed by Catholic doctrine, are merely the opinions of the author.

Attacks on the Family Pt. 4 - The "Patriarchy" Myth

This entry is probably going to be the most controvercial, and might get the most heated reactions - but here goes.

Once upon a time, caveman and cavewoman moved into their new cave, and had to decide how to survive. Caveman being the stronger of the two, it was decided that he should do all the hunting for sabretooth weiner dogs (vicious frightening creatures), and Cavewoman should stay in the cave and take care of the little Cave-babies, her being more suited to feeding them and so on. Caveman wasn't too excited about doing the hunting, it being very dangerous afterall, with the aweful sabretooth weiner dog being a ferocious killer that it was, and he didn't want to be away from his family that he loved, but he knew he had to do it in order to ensure the survival of his family.

This would have been called a "matriarchy," not because the woman was in charge, but because the motivation for Caveman to go hunting was all about the family, all about the cave, all about the home, all about making sure the wife and kids were taken care of. The woman was the home, the man served the home.

But then something strange happened. Cavemen from different caves quickly figured out that their hunting parties tended to be safer and more successful when they hunted in groups, and, being guys, they started competing with each other to see who was the best hunter. So we see a shift - the hunt became less and less about supporting the family, and more and more about being the best hunter. After a while, a persons status in the tribe became determined by how good a hunter a person was, the support of the family not being the motivating factor any more. Soon Cavemen wanted to become great hunters for the feeling of "self-fulfillment" that they got from being great hunters. This new, success oriented, task oriented system was called a "patriarchy."

Those Cavemen who were average hunters, who could support their families adequately but not as well as the REALLY GOOD hunters, they grew to have no real status in the tribe, despite the fact that by matriarchy standards, they were doing a fantastic job - they were, afterall, supporting their families. Ambition and success were most important in this new system - no one cared about stability and family anymore.

So, a natural result, what happened to Cavewoman? Where she was once the most important member - she was the home, to which the man was the servant - now, with hunting prowess being the most important thing, she had no status AT ALL. So, her natural response (as would anyone's) was to want to become a hunter too, so that she too could have recognized status in the tribe. Soon she was leaving Cavebabies in a daycare cave; soon the economy was built around dual income families rather than single income families, where it cost $12.50 to go to a movie that once cost only $2.50, where it now cost $450,000+ to buy a cave that once cost $75,000. Both Caveman and Cavewoman now HAVE TO hunt, just to keep their heads above water. That, or Caveman has to hunt all the time, and never gets to see the family that he is supporting.

See what I'm getting at? I'm NOT saying that only men should work - what I'm saying is that the motivation for working has to stop being about success in the business world, from which we gain a sense of our status, and SELF-fulfillement - and has to move back to being about serving the home, serving the needs of the child.

Feminism tried to answer this question - it realized that in a day when hunting prowess is no longer the deciding issue, and women literally are as capable, in most circumstances, of doing the same work as men, that they should have the same chance. But what hasn't changed is that children, particularly from birth to two years old, need their mothers - that it is their mothers that can provide nurturing and security that their dads can NOT provide. And the underlying fallacy, that status should be derived from material success, remains unchanged.

Some are fighting against this philosophy, with great courage. I know of a family where the dad took a lower paying job in order to spend more time with his family; his previous job, while paying him much more, kept him away from them for weeks and months at a time. They don't have as much stuff, as much STATUS in the eyes of our society, but they are a happier, tighter, healthier family.

They realize that the career, the job, the HUNT, is not supposed to be about self-fulfillment through career status - about being the best hunter - its supposed to be about supporting the family.